Feb 16, 2018

Commerce recommends major tariffs on steel and aluminum

Photo: Olivier Douliery / Getty Images

The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war, according to two sources briefed on the report.

Background: The fight over whether to use the Section 232 law to impose tariffs has already become the hottest trade fight inside the Trump White House. Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis have all been fighting against these tariffs on steel and aluminum — arguing they would harm the global economy and damage relationships with allies.

The opposition of Mattis is important because these are national security recommendations. Congress would also likely be extremely upset about the imposition of national security tariffs in direct conflict with the Secretary of Defense.

The options

The report suggests three options for each, ranging from overall tariffs to targeted tariffs to overall quotas.

Aluminum:

  1. Broad option: 7.7% tariff on all aluminum exports from all countries.
  2. Targeted option: 23.6% tariff on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. Other countries face quota set at 100% of 2017 exports to U.S.
  3. Overall quota option: A quota on imports from all countries to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to U.S.

Steel:

  1. Broad option: 24% tariff on all steel imports from all countries.
  2. Targeted option: Tariff of 53% (at least) on steel imports from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. Other countries have quota set at 100% of 2017 exports to U.S.
  3. Overall quota option: Quota for all countries of 63% of their 2017 exports to U.S.
What we're hearing

The only exclusions: Domestic companies can apply for exclusions based on national security or a lack of domestic supply.

A former senior government trade official said that without major exemptions, these recommendations would represent:

"[T]he opening shot in a trade war... a declaration of war against the world on aluminum and steel... These are some of our closest treaty allies... These are some serious numbers."

Quote from a trade expert:

"This would be beyond a trade war. You're talking about blowing up the WTO."

Flashback to January 14th: Inside the real trade fight

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the final numbers from the Commerce report.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 710,918 — Total deaths: 33,551 — Total recoveries: 148,900.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 135,499 — Total deaths: 2,381 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health